Combrig 1/700
USS Salem 1908

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
The USS Salem originally known as Scout Cruiser CS-3 was laid down in Quincy, Massachusetts at the Fore River Shipbuilding yard on August 1905. She was commissioned just three years later on August 1st 1908 the third of the Chester class light cruiser. Although of the same class, each cruiser had a different propulsion system. Chester had a Parsons turbine, Birmingham had conventional triple expansion reciprocating engines and Salem had a Curtis turbine. These ships were the test ships for the new powerplants as they operated in the Atlantic ocean. 

Naval technology was advancing at a rapid pace and it was not long before Salem was transferred to the reserve fleet for a few year in 1912. She returned to full service for duty off of Mexico just two years later. Later becoming a training ship and serving in other roles. When the US entered the first world war Salem entered Boston harbor for a much needed refit. Her engines replaced with more modern ones and she rejoined the fleet as a support ship for sub chasers.  After the war she transferred to the Pacific and went back to her earlier role as a light cruiser until finally being laid up in 1920 and scrapped in 1929.

Combrig is back with a bunch of new ships including this early US Navy cruiser. It is depicted in it's as-built 1908 appearance ready for a coat of  white and buff.

The Hull on this kit is cast in the typical waterline style. The casting is very well done with extremely fine detailing all over. The deck planking really stands out. There are several open passageways down into the deck that have a nice raised lip around them. Mounting holes and sockets are provided for the various vents and superstructure parts. I test fit some of them and they are almost a snap fit. 
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There is not a lot to the superstructure but what there is is nicely cast on a thin resin wafer. The funnels are well done and hollowed out on top. Small and large vent tubes are cast without a trace of flash or defects. Just cut them off the resin sprue and glue them on. The small parts are amazing in detail and the resin used is durable enough that they are not too fragile to handle. Mast parts are included in resin, but these I would replace with brass rod if you are going to add rigging. Some nice ships boats are provided and the boat davits to handle them are very fine.
A simple photo etch fret is included to supply the funnel cap grills, and support bracing for the various platforms. You will still need to supply your own hand railing, but most of us have plenty of that.
The Instructions are front and back of a single sheet. Some history and specs with a plan and elevation are on page one. Page two has an exploded 3D view. One thing not shown is the length and placement of the mast and yardarms. Numbering the parts on the sheet would also be helpful. But this is a pretty simple kit and it shouldn't be too difficult to follow these instructions, but a nice kit like this deserves better instructions. 

Yet another high quality Combrig kit, and another fine addition to the early war battleship fleets. This one features state of the art casting with unbelievable detail. This kit should be an easy build for anyone who has a few resin kits under their sleeve. It wouldn't be a bad first resin kit either as the cleanup and fitting of parts should be minimal. This is kit #70098 US Navy Scout Cruiser Salem CS-3, 1908 listed on the Pacific Front Hobbies website for $32.00 (US), a great price for this much detail. It will make a fine addition to your early US Navy fleet.